Thursday, December 08, 2005

According To Rish

December 8th, 2005

I'm on TV show "According To Jim" today. This is a sitcom, shot before a live audience, and when I did background work years ago, these were my favourite types of gigs. I did "Spin City," that ballbusting show "Dharma and Greg," and "The Norm Show" that I recall. This is the first time I'm doing a sitcom like this this year, though. Exciting?

I like Jim Belushi. I was too young to really know or appreciate who his brother was, and I started watching "Saturday Night Live" the year before Jim joined the cast, so while I haven't necessarily been a fan of his, I've always sort of appreciated that he exists, rather than resent his existence, as so many out there do. He actually shot a movie in my less-than-a-thousand-people hometown, and was reportedly nice to my then-thirteen year old sister. Good enough for me.

The extras around me are exchanging Jim Belushi stories. He's either a real sweetheart or a vindictive jerk, depending on the talespinner. I'm wondering if I should've brought my MR. DESTINY DVD for him to sign.

Two days ago, I worked on my first horror film. A dream come true, if you know me at all, though I neither got to kill nor be killed in it (which reminds me, I spoke to a girl for a while today who was a zombie in DAY OF THE DEAD 2 and also appeared in the forthcoming CREEPSHOW 3 . . . lucky stiff). It was a very low budget, very small crewed shoot, with the average age of a crew member being around twenty-seven. They worked fast and loose and it made me yearn to be among them. I played a uniformed police officer . . . again (a couple of years ago, I wondered if I could get hired on by the LAPD, until I came to my senses, that is), and it was old hat getting in the uniform and knowing where the badge, nametag, baton, and walkie talkie went. I got to pick my own nametag, and I chose Biggs, as in First Mate on the Rand Ecliptic.

I was involved in the final scene. In it, the police have broken into a serial killer's lair, only to find him gone . . . escaped. However, his last would-be victim is still there, and though she has been tortured (she's been forced to wear a creepy girl Michael Myers mask) and mutilated (both her hands have been cut off), she is alive. The cops call for paramedics and as she is wheeled out on a stretcher, the camera reveals that the paramedic is none other than the killer himself. Dum, dum, dum!

Then we went home--a short day--and I don't know if I've mentioned it, but an extra gets paid the same if he/she works two hours, five hours, or seven hours. So you want to work either a very short day, or a very, very long one, when you'll actually hit overtime.

You've probably heard this before, but it's who you know in this town, not what you know (another of ZuZu's teacher's sayings). To get anywhere, you have to be a persistent people person, one adept at the mystical art of schmoozing. I have never been--nor do I think I'll ever be--good at that (hence my lot in life, eh?). I only made friends with one casting agent ever, and her name was Sasha. I ran into Sasha on the set of SEPTEMBER, and gave her a call the next week. On Monday night, she booked me on this movie--a tiny shoot with only six or seven extras. Very small shoots are preferable to huge ones, since there's less mistreatment and much more visibility. One of the extras even got to say a line--"Is she alive?"--which not only pays a HELL of a lot more, but makes you not an extra anymore.

The film I worked on was called THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES, and is a LAST BROADCAST/BLAIR WITCH-esque flick that uses the videotapes the killer supposedly shot of his victims to help tell the story. I was surprised to see they have a sixteen day shooting schedule, but not having read the script, there's no knowing the scope of the film.

I love horror movies, and would be making them myself if I found ambition or won the lottery. The crew on this one seemed really tight and friendly, yet professional. The girl who played the victim was very cool with wearing a corset and lying in a coffin with a Michael Myers mask on.

An astounding thing about my own fractured psyche is that I hate not working, hate sitting at home watching DVDs and eating Cool Ranch Doritos. Yesterday, I was quite miserable, thinking about the many roads more traveled I have taken and pondering the difference it might have made to take the other one. But here I am, not even a full day later, on a set, sitting around still not accomplishing my dreams . . . and I'm happy as a clam. Heck, a BEARDED clam.

Jim Belushi just walked by. I know he'll never get out of his brother's shadow, but if "According To Jim" has really been on for five seasons, it's very possible that more people know who he is than know who John was. It's kind of strange, but possible.

"Don't wanna end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard."
Paul Simon

We sat around, watching them tape another segment of the show before ours. Courtney Thorne-Smith is pretty attractive. She sort of looks prematurely aged, though, as if a makeup artist made her look older than she really is for a movie part.

Today's was another short shoot. No way I'll be seen in the episode, but hey, the check's the same. I've never watched "According To Jim." This show seems pretty funny, but you know, they all do when they're right in front of you. Just like plays in the theatre seem more moving than recorded or in films.

It looks like I'm going to be coming back tomorrow for the show's taping. Those are great, and are a lot like plays, since they start from the beginning and go through the show in front of the audience. They only needed a handful of us back and when I asked to get onboard, the P.A. said, "I'm mostly looking for women, not men," I said, "Yeah, me too," and she laughed. A few minutes later, she told me to hang out with the recalled few. For all the jobs, classes, religions, and friends my sense of humour has ruined for me, there are actually a couple of times it's done me good.

Rish "The Tearful Clown" Outfield

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